Increasing underrepresented groups’ access to careers in law enforcement

Bills would establish scholarships and grants to improve local law enforcement diversity

LANSING — Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) introduced legislation to improve diversity in local law enforcement agencies. 

The two-bill package, Senate Bills 501 and 502, would establish statewide matching funds for local government scholarships aimed at increasing access to law enforcement career opportunities for women, minorities and other underrepresented groups.

“Diversity makes our state stronger, and it is important that the law enforcement agencies protecting our communities reflect the people they serve,” Sen. Brinks said. “When police officers of different backgrounds, life experiences and social identities build relationships, they learn from one another, emerging with wider worldviews that enhance their ability to evaluate diverse situations and to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

The income- and merit-based scholarships would make police academy training more accessible and affordable. Local government grants would be used to promote career pathways and engage residents, with the goal of fostering police forces that reflect the diversity of their surrounding communities.

“This legislation would provide local agencies with a valuable tool to help attract and recruit people from all walks of life to a career in law enforcement.” Rep. Kuppa said. “Everyone should feel safe and respected in the communities in which they live and work, and building strong relationships between residents and law enforcement is a key ingredient of any successful community.”

Local government officials and community groups also expressed support for the legislation as one way to improve recruiting efforts for those who have been historically underrepresented in the law enforcement profession.

“We are committed to having a police force that reflects our diverse community,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “This legislation, if passed, would bolster our efforts and eliminate financial barriers to the profession.”

The Department of Technology, Management and Budget would serve as the lead state agency for the scholarship and grant program. State funds would be matched on a one-to-one basis by the local government.

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